The Hawaiian language is beautiful, and soft when spoken. When in Hawaii, it may help to know a couple of words, as many of the people that really know the island use terms like "mauka" and "makai" for directions. Also, the language is really easy, once you get the hang of it, and the locals will like that you are making an attempt.
Anyway, here's some words you might want to know...
"mauka" (mow-ka) - toward the mountain
"makai" (mah-kigh) - toward the sea - good to know for direction
"heiau" (hey-ee-ow) - temple
"pakalolo" (pah-kah-low-low) - marijuana - the two above, also good for direction...hehe
"kapu" (kah-poo) - forbidden, keep out, taboo - like the above...
"kane" (kah-neh) - boy/man
"wahine" (vah-hee-neh) - woman - the above two are useful to know for restrooms
"wikiwiki" (wee-kee-wee-kee) - hurry up...often heard outside the "wahine" rooms
"keiki" (kay-key) - children - so you don't try to order "keiki" on the menu...
"mahalo" (mah-hah-low) - Thank you
You might see flowers, leis, and sacred native plants left at certain natural sites around the island, like here at Halema'uma'u Overlook on the southern part of Crater Rim Drive. This is one of the most active volcanic sites in the world, an appropriate place to honor the power of nature. These sites are considered sacred by native Hawaiians, and they leave offerings to their gods and spirits like people do at altars sometimes. This particular crater is the home of Pele, the Hawaiian fire goddess.
I want to tell you a story about Madame Pele. She is the Goddess of fire who makes her home in the Kilauea Crater. When angry she vents it by spitting fire and lava, thus creating the Hawaiian Islands. Wow, thats one peeved chick! She is able to take human form and usually appears before an eruption as either a beautiful young woman or as an old hag with a white dog. She is usually seen at night up on Saddle road trying to hitchhike. Be kind and polite because she expects to be treated well. You can usually appease the firey Pele with bottles of gin (she use to like ohelo berries) but her tastes have definitely changed!
Here in the US, it's common to find a copy of Gideon's bible in your hotel room. This allows all travelers a chance to continue their spiritual enlightenment, even when away from home. Here in Hilo, other idealogies exist, and it is shared with us. In our room, we found a copy of the Bible as well as a copy of the Teachings of Buddha. You know what? It worked. During this time of conflict in my life (recovering from our accident and the trauma of the injuries) I found many words of hope in those pages. When I returned home, I ordered my own copy...to continue on my path to enlightenment.
As you drive past the miles of black lava fields that stretch further than the imagination, little white rocks pepper the darkness. These rocks, bone white in color, gathered miles away, brought to this barren location and strategically placed into position to tell the innermost desires of thier creators. Who loves who, who was here, who is no longer here...it's all recorded in this local form of "grafetti."
It is considered rude and bad luck to disturb these messages.
Some of the best time in Hawaii was spent meeting the local people.
Besides selling their wares (and it's much cheaper and finer quality we found than buying in a store), if you happen across a fellow, such as the one pictured here, or a gal selling leis or beads, chances are they're bored and willing to talk and tell stories.
We got excellent "Inside Tips" to local restaurants this way, as well as secluded beaches that other tourists did not Know about.
We also learned alot about customs and folklore. People in Hawaii are extremely friendly people. Take the time to meet some!
One of the most interesting things to see while on the Big Island is the "Island Graffiti" that runs along highway 19 from Kona to Kohala Coast. These are all "written" with white coral and leave a striking image in one's mind with the juxtaposition between the black lava rock and the white coral stones.
There are many types of messages left ranging from memorials to loved ones who have died, marriage proposals, proclamations of love as well as messages to people passing by. It has been around for ages and people are generally good about not disturbing the messages or taking rocks to make their own message. The residents ask that the white coral not be harvested or moved from the beach.
The photo shows our message we left on Kiholo Bay beach....we did NOT take our white stones away from the beach or farm it from the ocean as this is illegal. We only used coral stones that were already on the beach and the message was left on the same beach. No harm no foul. Sort of like building a sand castle when the tide comes it it will reclaim it to its natural state.
At lunch time the locals heads to their favourite places for a plate lunch. It' can be a deli, food stall or an other place that serves meals and usualy contains of a couple of scoops of rice the ever appearing macaroni potatoe/salad a some kind of meat usualy chicken, pork or a mixed plate with both.
When traveling around the island at lunch time, look for a place where the locals stops or ask someone where in the area there's good plate lunches avaialable.
Have a look at my Food of the Big Island travelouge for more plate lunches.
The Kukui nut lei is made from the Kukui Nut Tree.The Kukui Nut Tree is also known as the Candlenut Tree and in ancient Hawai’i the nuts were burned to provide light and the oil also has many cooking and medicinal uses. The nuts are used also in necklaces (leis) and bracelets. The colors of the nuts can be black, brown or white and often painted with decorative colors.
The meaning of kukui is a symbol of enlightenment, protection and peace. During our travels to Hawaii my wife has bought several Kukui nut leis for herself, friends and family; it makes a great souvenir gift.
About 20% of the state of Hawaii's population is made up of native Hawaiians and an important segment of that group advocates restoring Hawaii to its status as an independent nation. Another portion of this population is fighting for some lands to be returned as ancestral homelands, much like the arrangements Native Americans have on the mainland. Their arguments are based on the way Hawaii was coopted by American agricultural elites who toppled the monarchy and pestered the United States government into annexing the islands. Their current concern is the plight of today's Hawaiians, who are economically disadvantaged compared to other ethnic groups in the state. Of course, some of them may just want casinos -- after all, Hawaii is the only state in which no form of gambling is legal -- not even the lottery.
Anyway, one of the customs of Hawaiian nationalists is to fly the state flag upside down. If you see this, it is not a mistake.
The graffitti made out of writing with white coral (arranging the pieces into words) on black lava along the highway near Kona was extremely striking, and something I'd never read about before I went to the Big Island. I can't believe I didn't get any pictures.
Mile after mile of peoples' names and messages and designs ....
If you drive past all those names spelled in white rocks on the hardened lava, you may as well stop and add your name to it ! ! ! Be sure to get your own rocks though, and don't even think about bothering someone elses' name. Usually somewhere along the road, you will see "extra" white rocks, feel free to stop and gather these for your signature.
The Big Island is Hawaii's place for Big Drives, so it's nice to be entertained by lava graffiti. Don't worry -- there is no paint involved. Rather, people gather up white coral stones on the beach and take them to roadside lava deposits where they write words and draw pictures. The white stands out well against the dark black lava, creating the worlds most eco-friendly vandalism (if you would call it that!).
At Helama'uma'u on 20 August, there are native Hawaiian religious celebrations focused on the god Pele, who is rumored to live in the volcano (note, if you steal lava rocks from the National Park, Pele will curse you according to local custom). In recent years, as the Hawaiian cultural identity has surged, there has been a renewed interest in Hawaiian religion. we got to witness some of that in the parking lot, as you can see in the accompanying photos.
While driving on the road between Kona Airport and Kailua-Kona Town you will notice White Rock "graffiti" on the side of the road. This is nice! And has long tradition. Do not be tempted to rearrange the rocks for YOUR names! Be respectful. Gather your own beach white coral rocks!!!
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